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Over the last fifteen years the Front National in France has risen from being an obscure and insignificant actor to one of the more visible and most discussed parties in French politics The Front led by Jean-Marie Le Pen has managed to attract a sizable proportion of the electorate in nearly every election at every level of government over this time period The support the FN has garnered can be attributed to the populist themes it addresses in its policy platform - law and order immigration and unemployment This essay examines the rapid ascent of Le Pen and his party and the circumstances that made the rise feasible It also analyses the FNs policies and their subsequent effects on French politics and society Finally the Front Nationals electorate and future in French politics is investigated The Rise of Le Pen and the FN Jean-Marie Le Pen who lost his left eye in a political brawl1 began his political career long before the conception of the FN As a lieutenant to Pierre Poujade the leader of the Poujadist movement2 Le Pen became a member of the National Assembly from 1956 to 1958 During this time he acquired many of the values and ideals on which he later used to formulate the Fronts platform After his stint in the National Assembly Le Pen traveled to then colonized Algeria and saw active duty as a paratrooper officer The years leading up to the naming of Le Pen as leader of the FN were comparatively calm to the years he would spend with the Front The Front Nationals creation in 1972 with Le Pen at the helm might be described as anything but auspicious During the first decade of its existence it remained at best a fringe party with a radical and extreme right wing slant In the Presidential election of 1974 which was won by the moderate rights Valery Giscard dEstaing
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